When a man believes in the power of prayer, the threat of a cash demand through the post is of minimal consequence.
Marvin Andrews says he will lose no sleep over the thought of HMRC or the Rangers liquidators coming after his money.
The reported recipient of £316,000 in loans from the Employee Benefit Trust (EBT) scheme introduced to Rangers by the Murray Group, the former Ibrox defender received a letter the same day he signed his contract with the club in May 2004.
Promised to fund a sub-trust established in his name and set down a payment schedule, subject to his being a Rangers player on those dates.
The arrangements were far from unusual. The Trinidadian defender, now a pastor in Kirkcaldy, was one of 87 former players and members of staff offered an EBT.
By a majority verdict, however, the First Tier Tribunal ended a lengthy discourse by deciding that the EBT payments were loans and Rangers were not liable for tax on most of them.
In a 145-page report, the judgment of Kenneth Mure QC and Scott Rae, solicitor — if not tax expert Dr Heidi Poom — was that: ‘The payments are loans, not earnings, and so are recoverable from the employee or his estate.’
In plain English this means one thing: in the event of HMRC appealing and overturning the FTT verdict, the players could be held liable for the cash due. The door is also open to liquidators BDO to pursue players and former employees — on behalf of fleeced creditors.
For some of the players charged with keeping the trophies coming, the sums were eye-watering. Barry Ferguson reportedly received £2.5million. Christian Nerlinger, an injury-prone German midfielder, £1.8m. The former chairman Sir David Murray, meanwhile, was loaned £6.3m.
In comparison, then, the sums Andrews could be asked to repay seem almost insignificant.
‘It’s not really bothering me,’ he told Sportsmail yesterday. ‘Whatever tax is due is something I will only worry about when it happens.
‘I don’t know the scenario there, I have not been following it closely.
‘If they come and ask me for money, then I will deal with it when the time comes. But, as a player, you are not studying your pay slip every night. What you study is football and you worry only about what will happen on the pitch.
‘You are at a big club like Rangers and you are told that everything will be all right.
‘I got my pay slip and, so far as I could see, my tax was coming out every month and going to the right people. It was being deducted and that was it.
‘Everything was there in my pay slip as normal. You saw everything that was coming in and everything that was going out and that was it.
‘The contract had already been taken care of. I didn’t have any advisers telling me anything. When I signed that contract I just signed a normal contract and that was it.’
By any definition, the loans granted to the players and employees were unlike anything the man on the street would sign off in a High Street bank.
Instance page 79 of the FTT report, where the terms and conditions relating to the loans were drawn from verbal and documented evidence obtained during the tribunal. They were distinctly unusual.
According to the FTT report, for example, no security was ever requested or required for the hundreds of thousands of pounds borrowed.
Neither was scrutiny undertaken as to why the loans were being requested. Or any vetting performed on whether the loan could ever realistically be repaid.
Sportsmail asked yesterday why the loans were never recalled when the Lloyds Banking Group were knocking at the door of Murray Group demanding repayment of an £18m debt prior to the sale of the club to Craig Whyte.
The report answers that question by saying the players and employees who had an EBT understood they would never be expected to repay the loans against their wishes.
And what sticks out most is the assertion of many of the anonymous witnesses that the loans would never have to be repaid. Not, at least, during their life span.
The anonymous Mr Grey — the agent for a former Rangers manager — is quoted as saying: ‘I could not conceive of any situation where the loans would require to be repaid.’
Mr Violet, meanwhile — the former manager in question — adds: ‘While I knew these were loans, I never thought I would pay anything back during my lifetime.’
For players, managers and former employees alike, then, any suggestion that they might now be liable to pay back the cash will come as a grave shock to the system. An injustice, indeed.
‘I didn’t know what loopholes were in there or anything,’ shrugs Andrews. ‘If there is a problem, then I will deal with it when it comes.’
Privately, the players argue they merely did what they were told. That joining the EBT was involuntary and offered alongside their personal contract on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis.
Yet the man who created EBTs and acted as an adviser to Rangers believes that is no defence. Paul Baxendale-Walker told Sportsmail last year that the players should be held liable for repaying any cash due to the Revenue.
‘The guarantees given to the players that they would not be pursued are very dangerous for the players,’ he said.
‘Because the rules say that if the employee knows what is going on and is party to it, then the employee is liable — not the employer.
‘The players may have been given assurances they wouldn’t be pursued for the money in future, but so what?
‘Whoever received those payments now has to pay them back.’
It is far from certain that individual players will be pursued for cash, however.
Mark Houston, a partner at Johnston Carmichael Chartered Accountants in Edinburgh, believes HMRC have no remit to pursue the players unless it successfully appeals the tribunal decision.
‘The tribunal has ruled Rangers is not liable for tax on payments made under EBT on the basis that the payments were loans and not earnings,’ he said. ‘That effectively closes the door on HMRC being able to go after players.’
Liquidators BDO could still have the power to pursue all the loans on the basis that club money funded the trust, however. So far, they say they are merely reviewing the tribunal’s decision.
For many of the players who brought the glory days to Ibrox, however, the price of that success may yet prove to be unexpectedly heavy.